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AI Seen Gaining in Post-Pandemic Era 

Post-pandemic research is showing higher expectations for AI to help businesses make gains, based on positive results seen in 2020.  (Credit: Getty Images) 

By AI Trends Staff 

AI is getting good reports from recent post-pandemic research, with expectations now that AI will make processes more efficient and help to create new products, services and business models.  

The AI in a Post-COVID-19 World report by GBSN Research found that three-quarters of business leaders have a positive outlook on AI. Another report from management solutions provider OneStream found that the use of AI tools such as machine learning has jumped from 20% of enterprises in 2020 to nearly 60% in 2021, according to an account in VentureBeat. 

Supply chains across all industry sectors are becoming increasingly diverse and digitally driven, with AI-based management solutions helping to provide end-to-end visibility that enables organizations to exploit opportunities. For example, Alaska Airlines is using an AI-driven flight management system that can compile and analyze datasets much more quickly than human operators can. The airline is using this information to shorten flight times, minimize delays and reduce costs. The AI system assists the human dispatchers in their work and does not replace them.    

Rashesh Jethi, former Senior VP of Engineering and Innovation for Amadeus

“What is allowing airlines, hotels and other travel companies to behave more like modern-day retailers is the clever use of self-learning systems, heuristics trained by massive data sets and haptic-enabled video hardware,” stated Rashesh Jethi, former Senior VP of Engineering and Innovation for Amadeus, the travel technology company. “Machine learning, AI, augmented reality and virtual reality are starting to dramatically shape the way we will seek and select our travel experiences.,” stated Jethi, now independent.  

Top Execs Optimistic About Economic Recovery 

Moreover, CFOs and other finance executives are optimistic that economic recovery is on the horizon, with 75% reporting they expect to return to normal by the end of 2021, according to the Enterprise Financial Decision-Making Report commissioned from OneStream, a provider of corporate performance management solutions for mid-sized and large enterprises. Companies have significantly increased their data analysis tool investments and usage over the past year, the report found. 

The study was conducted by Hanover Research in April of 2021, with insights from 340 finance decision makers in the United States, Canada and Mexico. All individuals hold management positions (C-level executive (CFO), VP, Director, Controller) in finance. Respondents work at companies across numerous industries; 24% are from companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue. 

The survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic created a heightened need for agile forecasting, predictive planning and digital transformation. The ability to quickly reforecast budgets and shift workflows became more essential.  

The 2021 report found that finance executives have significantly increased their investments in data analysis tools. Some 59% reported investing in AI; 65% increased their usage of cloud-based planning and reporting systems; most companies (69%) use low-code development platforms. These enable business users and “citizen developers” to take on new roles. For workers returning to the office, investments in data privacy tools, reported by 18%, are a priority.   

Executive Commitment Among Challenges Facing AI 

Business executive optimism was also found in the AI in a Post-COVID-19 World report from The AI Journal, with 72% of leaders surveyed online in July and August 2020 feeling positive about the role AI will play in the future, with the number one expectation being that it will make business processes more efficient (74%).   

Challenges cited by the respondents included: a lack of commitment toward investing in AI at the board level, cited by 59%; incorporating legacy processes and technologies that do not support AI, cited by 50%; and the shortage of relevant skills within the workforce, cited by 48%.   

“Many of the sticking points that we saw before the pandemic still remain, with the key issues being a lack of support at board level, legacy technologies, and an under-skilled workforce,” stated Tom Allen, founder of The AI Journal.  

The report suggested these solutions to the challenges faced by AI:  

  • Training and education; 
  • Positive communications campaigns; 
  • A focus on ethics and regulation; 
  • Government support; 
  • A focus on improving legacy systems; and 
  • A greater provision of support communities for AI developers. 

Entrepreneur Ben Lamm Offers Post-Pandemic Predictions  

Ben Lamm, Founder and Board Member, Hypergiant

Post-pandemic predictions were recently outlined by Ben Lamm, the founder of Hypergiant, who has guided organizations including NASA, the Air Force, Apple and Twitter on how to use AI to achieve “intelligent transformation,” in an account in Entrepreneur. They include:  

An increased focus on exploring space (and protecting Earth). Humans were designed for Earth — our increased focus on space exploration will highlight that organisms are wired for the planet where they were created,” he stated. Space exploration is important because it helps us to uncover new technologies, ideas and ways of working that improve life on Earth.   

We’re entering a safe time to invest. “Investment is focused on what’s predictable. It’s a good time to raise money if you’re an entrepreneur,” he stated. We know we have a vaccine and that not everyone will take it; investors believe it is a safe time to invest.  

Data’s role in everything will explode. “Demand for data is moving 10x faster right now, ranging from connectivity services to observation, monitoring and analysis,” Lamm stated. Sources of this data growth is coming from terrestrial-based distribution technologies connecting to satellites. A related startup is Isotropic Systems, which is developing an advanced multi-year connectivity over a single antenna. “As data needs increase, so does the space industry because more suppliers are necessary to help solve terrestrial problems,” Lamm stated.  

AI-powered productivity will be king. “The more AI models we make and actually get into production, the better our ability to scale AI adoption and learn from AI use cases,” Lamm stated. The combination of hybrid and remote workers will mean decentralized units, characterized by intermittent communication, with each individual, team or group more able to set its own direction. “Asynchronizing the office is the key to this. Work will become more independent, personalized and flexible—if we do it right,” Lamm stated.  

Read the source accounts and information in VentureBeatthe Enterprise Financial Decision-Making ReportThe AI Journal and in Entrepreneur. 

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